Photo by David Chamberlain / MTSU Sidelines Archive
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend to play their last conference series of the season against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The Blue Raiders took the series two games to one, as they earned wins in the first and third games. MTSU finished the season with a 27-27-1, 12-17-1 record for the season. This is an improvement over last season’s record of 24-31, 10-20.
With their record, the Blue Raiders finished the season in ninth place within the conference and just one spot shy of being eligible for the Conference USA tournament that features the top eight teams.
Starting pitchers find consistency
Throughout the entire series, the Blue Raiders’ starters were consistently good and helped keep their teams in contention.
In the first game on Friday, senior left-hander Jake Wyrick got the nod to start the first game, and he impressed in his appearance by going for six innings. He earned seven strikeouts and one earned run to keep his team in command of the lead.
Sophomore Drew Huff and junior right-hander Tyler Holcombe closed out the game in relief. Holcombe picked up his first save of the season.
In game two, freshman right-hander Zach Keenan got the start on the mound and threw for six innings too. Keenan allowed four runs, while striking out seven and walking only one batter.
Unfortunately, it would not be enough to keep the Raiders in, and they fell in a close contest, 6-5.
Peyton Wigginton got the start in game three and played a strong role in helping the Blue Raiders claim the 11-5 victory.
Sullivan homers twice in game one as Raiders’ bats stay hot during the series
The Blue Raiders claimed game one thanks to the two home-run performance by senior Kevin Sullivan. His home runs accounted for a two-run bomb in the second and a solo homer in the fifth.
He was not the only Blue Raider to have a solid first game at the plate, as junior Blake Benefield hit three doubles in four appearances at bat.
Huff also hit a solo home run in game one in the second inning. He finished the game going three for four on the day.
Senior Ryan Kemp extended his hitting streak to 20 games in game two of the series, accomplishing this on a single in the third inning.
The Blue Raiders will be losing several key contributors this off-season, as several of the seniors’ collegiate careers come to a close.
Among these are senior Aaron Aucker, who leads the team in home runs, Ryan Kemp, pitcher Jake Wyrick and Kevin Sullivan. The senior class of 2018 players have been significant contributors to the team in their time at MTSU.
However, the Blue Raiders have a promising young bench to pull from, and with solid recruiting, MTSU could return to competitive form next season.
To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email firstname.lastname@example.org.